CONCERN surrounds the welfare of a mystery Middle Eastern man who has lived in a hole on Blackheath for nearly four years.

People say the elderly man lives in his makeshift, carefully camouflaged home all year long while car drivers, dog-walkers, kite flyers and the heath's famous crows carry on obliviously around him.

But with the arrival of the Olympics at nearby Greenwich Park, a live Games site planned for the heath and the proposed arrival of surface-to-air missiles nearby, there are worries he may soon have to be forcibly turfed out of his hole.

Ward councillor Cllr Chris Maines said it was high time the council found him some proper accommodation, saying the fact he had been left there for years on end was "unacceptable".

He said: "The world's press will be descending on the area to cover the Olympic Games.

"People living rough in a bivouac is a poor reflection on Lewisham's homeless policies.

"I am determined this man is treated sympathetically rather seen as a short-term inconvenience."

Though he has been based there for some time, the mystery hole-dweller, who Cllr Maines says is Iranian, is rarely seen in daylight hours.

But residents say the man lives on the heath 365 days a year, even camping out during the harsh winter, with his few possessions hidden away.

He is only occasionally spotted in the village and even workers at landmarks like All Saints Church and the Blackheath tea hut claim never to have clapped eyes on him.

Neighbour Andy Lewis, 39, said: "He's there all through the year pretty much, whatever the weather."

He added: "I've never really seen him but he's been there a good, long time.

"I suppose living on the heath might be better than sleeping on the streets. It must be safer."

Cllr Maines, who says he has tried and failed to contact the man on several occasions, said: "I and others have been asking that this person is treated sympathetically and found more suitable housing."

He went on: "The council needs to act now, this issue has existed for almost four years and I am concerned he will soon be dealt with by the military protecting the Olympic Games rather than the council's social services department."

News Shopper has made numerous attempts to speak to the man, but he has not been in his hole.

A council spokesman said: "Lewisham Council, along with the police, the South London and Maudsley and other voluntary agencies, are in discussion with this gentleman but so far all offers of accommodation have been declined.

"However, we are continuing, with our partner agencies, to discuss his needs with him in order to reach a satisfactory outcome."

Do you know the man in the hole? Call the newsroom on 01689 885714.